Coming from a Sicilian family, many of my favorite traditions revolve around food! Can any of you relate? I have fond memories of my mother baking gingerbread men and getting to help decorate the fragrant treats and now my children look forward to doing the same. Lasagna is a Christmas Eve tradition. If you’ve never had homemade lasagna, you are missing out.
Several Christmases ago, my mom remembered a Christmas tradition from her childhood. Her grandparents from both sides came to America from Sicily. One of her grandmothers made a traditional Sicilian Christmas cookie each Christmas Eve that she loved. I do not have the exact recipe from her, but I found this traditional one and made it that year and every Christmas since, for my mom. She loves it and of course it has become a new-old family tradition. I am posting the recipe below. Wishing you a very merry Christmas and hoping it’s full of your own family, friends and traditions. May you be filled with the true Spirit of Christmas.
Cucidati |(coo-chi-dott-ee) |Sicilian Fig Cookies
- 8-1/3 cup flour
- 1 lb dried figs (stems removed)
- 1-3/4 cups sugar
- 1-1/3 cup lard
- 1/4 lb. raisins
- 1/4 lb. blanched toasted almonds (about 3/4 cups)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- some bitter chocolate (about 2 shredded squares)
- zest of a lemon
- zest of a tangerine
- 1/2 cup marmalade
- 1/2 cup espresso coffee
- 1 teaspoon honey
- colored sugar (diavulicchi )
- lightly beaten egg
Grind figs, citrus zest and almonds together until a thick paste is made, then put them in a bowl. Add chopped raisins, chocolate, coffee, honey and marmalade. Mix well and let rest, covered.
Combine softened lard with flour (a little at a time) to obtain a dough, working in sugar and vanilla. Roll out dough and cut into pieces large enough to be folded over balls of filling (about 3″ lengths). Once the filling is in the dough, pinch into logs & bend each cookie into a crescent shape and then take a sharp knife and trace zig-zag patterns in the dough so that when the cookies bake, the dough will pull back, revealing the filling.
Bake cookies at 350 degrees for about 15 to 20 minutes or until a light golden brown. When cool, brush with egg yokes and sprinkle with colored sugar. You could also make a simple icing with 1 cup powdered sugar and juice of a lemon for decorating instead of the egg yoke.